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Functional training: 2012 fitness trend

Functional training: 2012 fitness trend

There are quite a few new ‘buzz words’ and key trends in the fitness industry. One of the most talked about this year is functional training, also known as personalized functional training. Unlike many ‘fitness fads,’ functional training has been a continually growing trend originally used by physical therapists for years. A physical therapist, working with a client that suffers from a chronic injury (knee or back) needs to be shown creative ways to exercise without aggravating their condition. These exercises should help the client not only strengthen the target and surrounding muscles through force-resistance, but improve how the client performs everyday activities, such as bending, squatting, reaching and kneeling. After all, this should be a main motivator behind smart strength training.

Functional Training: What is it?

Functional (strength) training involves performing work against resistance, like your own body weight or resistance bands, in a way that the improvements in your strength directly enhances your performance of everyday activities, or those that are a part of daily living. The desired result is that these activities are easier to perform. Think of functional training in terms of moving through a series of smooth, rhythmic motions in the three cardinal planes of movement (frontal, transverse, and sagital). A frontal exercise would be a forward lunge, a transverse exercise would be a side leg lunge and a sagital exercise would involve bending or twisting in the core area.

Some of the movement activities you may perform (routinely) during the day include walking, running, jumping, reaching, lifting, bending, pushing, pulling, twisting and turning, climbing and lunging. functional training is all about transferring the improvements in your strength gained (in one movement) to enhance the performance of another movement. Functional training affects and involves your entire neuromuscular system. Another goal of functional training is to enhance the coordination and relationship between your nervous and muscular systems.

Functional Training: Significance

The difference between regular personal training and personalized functional training programs (some boot camps and Crossfit programs) in that the client does not perform movements until he/she is ready to handle it. It is an alternative option to the standard one-size-fits-all approach to fitness training. A client is screened and assessed by a certified personal trainer to observe his unique movement patterns, and then a very individualized, appropriate fitness program is designed for that individual. The program is designed according to the client’s current fitness level using a series of ‘purposeful’ exercises.